An 8-year-old Highland boy is dying of bone cancer while his divorced parents disagree over whether he should receive traditional treatment - at the Mayo Clinic with less than 10 percent chance of survival - or be treated by a California doctor who combines diet and medication.
The mother and father on Tuesday did agree to delay for two weeks a court hearing to determine the boy's future medical treatment while the boy undergoes the non-traditional treatment in California.Trudy Olcott, Highland, and Jerry Owens, Midway, Wasatch County, disagree about what treatment their son, Yuri, should receive for osteogenic sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. Divorced for more than three years, the two have joint custody of Yuri.
Yuri was first diagnosed as having cancer by local doctors in July. Owens and Olcott mutually supported different forms of chemotherapy at Primary Children's Hospital and at a clinic in Texas. Both also accompanied Yuri to Mexico for diet and nutrition treatment there. None of those treatments was successful, and Olcott and Owens disagree on what treatment to pursue next.
Olcott wants Yuri to be treated as recommended by doctors at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. The treatment would involve amputation of Yuri's arm and shoulder where the cancer is located. The amputation would be followed by several months of chemotherapy in hopes of controlling the cancer that has spread to Yuri's lungs.
Mayo Clinic doctors recommended that Yuri's treatment begin this week and said any delay decreases the chances of his surviving. Even with the treatment, doctors said Yuri's chances of surviving are less than 10 percent. Without the treatment, however, doctors said Yuri will "suffer a hideous and painful death" in four to 12 months.
Owens wants Yuri to undergo non-surgical treatment in San Diego, Calif., under the direction of Dr. Lawrence Taylor. Taylor, a licensed physician in California for more than 30 years, treats cancer and other chronic diseases with diet, nutrition and medication. Though still low, Taylor said, Yuri's chances of surviving are better with his treatment.
Owens said he is not opposed to traditional medical treatment but believes the medical treatment recommended by the Mayo Clinic doctors is unacceptable - especially considering the low likelihood of success. He said Taylor's treatment gives Yuri a better chance of surviving and would not require am-pu-ta-tion of his arm and shoulder.
"Why go to a place that gives virtually no hope when there is hope at another place?" Owens asked.
Judge George E. Ballif was expected to rule Tuesday on which treatment Yuri should receive. However, before the hearing, Owens, Olcott and their attorneys agreed to continue the hearing until March 6 so Yuri can undergo two weeks of treatment from Taylor.
"This gives us an opportunity of hope with no irreversible effects," said Owens' attorney, Jeff Hill. "Both sides feel very confident that this will be meaningful and productive time."
Olcott's attorney, Randy Kester, said his client's main concern is delaying the treatment recommended by the Mayo Clinic. "She's a little uneasy with (the agreement), but she recognizes the risks on both sides," Kester said.
Yuri leaves for California on Sunday and will begin treatment under Taylor's direction on Monday. Hill said it will take about seven to 10 days for Taylor to determine if his treatment is working. The progress of Taylor's treatment will be discussed at the next hearing. At that time, if Olcott and Owens do not agree, Ballif will rule on which form of treatment Yuri will receive.